Monday, November 30, 2009

Skipped The London Eye To Go To Work

After the wallet-rollercoaster ride incident, it's back to work for me. Work had kidnapped my boss into a meeting out of town, leaving me alone in the afternoon to write up my annual performance review.

Writing it should be easy (unlike to some folks who had to add a little sizzle in their steak, if you know what I mean), but with sweeping views from my desk like these, its very, very easy to be distracted.

With long queues at the London Eye, the choice was clear to stay in the office and ahem, work.

Believe it or not, that's lunch for me. Boo...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks Moazzam!

-continued from previous post-

First things first - cancel the credit card. Firefighting mode done, let's look for
that wallet.

Called the airline, nothing. Called the airport, still nothing. Slight glimmer of hope, they said that it takes 24 hours for a clean sweep of their satellite offices, but to me, that's just prolonging the agony.

I called the Heathrow office 2 days later, and, by Jove, someone had registered my wallet as found! A certain Mr. Khawaja had left his phone number with the airport authorities, and said that he had my wallet. So I immediately called the number, had a good talk with Moazzam Khawaja, and agreed to meet him in one of the tube stations outside the city.

After verifying that it was indeed I trying to claim my wallet, he handed everything to me, without a single cent lost! He works at the airport running a private car service, and he picked up the wallet in the parking lot dedicated to private carhires, where I must have dropped it as I boarded my car ride.

Trying to keep a grown man from crying in one of the busy streets of West London, I had to switch gears and gave Moazzam my standard CS hospitality gift: a replica jeepney. He said thanks, and simply requested to pray for his family.

I would like to think that I had racked up good karma points while in CouchSurfing but to have something like this happen to me is wildly unimaginable. So much gratitude, much thanks to Moazzam, and most of my trip wouldn't have been such an awesome experience if it weren't for him.

There is much to celebrate - that in this day and age, little acts of kindness steers our faith back to the human side of humanity. I'm normally overwhelmed by kindness by the end of my trip, but to start a trip with such a rollercoaster experience, I was sure that the next three weeks would be beyond awesome.
Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Lost My Wallet In Heathrow

Yes. That's how my 3-week, first-ever trip to Europe started. The busiest airport in the world (let's talk international arrivals). I was about to complain about how I did not sleep at all on the 20-hour journey (accumulating some 48 hours of no sleep), but this seems a bit more sensible to rag about, and definitely woke up my senses.

I've never lost anything in any of my travels, either by theft or by simply misplacing them, and this was the first one (Save for that shirt I "accidentally" left on Bondi Beach). However, I always try to play it smart - my wallet contains minimal cash, my credit card and my ATM card for emergency purchases. My company card, my backup credit card, and the rest of my money are stowed away in a difficult-to-steal and difficult-to-pickpocket bag.

Sadly, my wallet, like I said, had my ATM - so no more additional cash for me, and with the USD is treated like trash in UK+EU countries, I was good as broke. Worse, I had just drawn out some three hundred quid for the trip. It also had my driver's license and my office ID. And keys to my luggage. Drat.

I have this OCD-like habit of checking my pockets frequently, and I detected that something was missing halfway through the car ride into the city. I had assumed that I chucked my wallet inside one of my bags, and immediately checked them as soon as the car stopped in front of the hotel. With each bag that I rifle through, and empty, there was this sinking feeling in your gut that was saying, "It's gone!" As the last bag was searched and closed, I knew I was done.
Monday, November 16, 2009

A Preview Of Things To Come

5 GBs of photos, 4 rolls of film (yes, film!), 40 kgs of luggage carried for 1km in rainy Amsterdam bundled with a bad hangover, and 29 hours of continuous travel just to get home, I'll be all right.

This blog will be updated soon.